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UNCCD Calls for Rio+20 to Agree on a Sustainable Development Goal on Land

Chifeng, China/Bonn, Germany, 23 May 2012 – The international community needs to agree on a sustainable development goal with a measurable target of achieving zero net land degradation by 2030. Such a bold decision would enhance efforts in all regions of the world to restore degraded land and sustainably manage non-degraded land by means of Sustainable Land Management (SLM) practices and techniques. “Land is the earth’s natural and indispensable infrastructure for life,” and demands “sustainable land use for all and by all, especially in the agricultural activities.” Dr Mansour N’Diaye, Chef de Cabinet, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) made these remarks this morning at the opening of the Asia Regional Media Workshop on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought taking place in Chifeng, Inner Mongolia, China. The three-day workshop which ends on Friday, 25 May 2012, brings together journalists from 10 countries in Asia for an interaction with experts on the lessons learned over the last 20 years on the progress made towards the long term sustainability of land and soil, in light of the June UN Conference on Sustainable Development or Rio +20 Conference as it is commonly known. N’Diaye warned that the goals on climate change, on conservation of biological diversity and on forests would not be achieved unless “there is sufficient care and proactive measures for the soil.” “We will not alleviate rural poverty and hunger. We will not ensure long-term food security, nor build resilience to drought and water stress. This will lead to severe consequences, including more conflict over scarce resources,” he added. “Asia is the most severely affected continent in terms of the number of people affected by Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought,” and so is expected to be actively engaged in the negotiations at the Rio+20 Summit, he said. N’Diaye’s call was echoed by Luc Gnacadja, UNCCD Executive Secretary, at a media event also held today in Berlin, Germany, where he spoke to journalists on the need for Rio+20 to agree on sustainable development goal on land.  Hyo-Tae Hwang, Director of the International Cooperation Division of Korea Forest Service, speaking at the Chifeng workshop on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Korea, which is the current President of the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD, said left unchecked, desertification, land degradation and drought could threaten up to 90% of Asia’s total land area. He said the Republic of Korea once suffered from land degradation, especially in the aftermath of the Korean War. But with massive reforestation the country was restored. “Today,” he said, “we are sharing our experiences and technologies with nearby countries suffering from land degradation.” Hyo-Tae said as COP10 President, the country would collaborate with the UNCCD to highlight the importance of sustainable land management at national and the global levels. National, regional and local authorities in China presented cases of land rehabilitation in Northern China, particularly the Inner Mongolia area, including Chifeng, where journalists will visit some of the projects. Many South East Asian countries are affected by desert dust storms that originate from the region. The UNCCD was conceived at the Rio ’92 Summit and is the sole Convention that links environment and development, an emphasis now central to the Rio+20 theme of a Green Economy. The Asia Regional Workshop on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought is jointly organized with the State Forestry Administration of China, Republic of Korea and China’s largest media organization, Xinhua News Agency. A similar workshop for the African region will take place from 29-31 May in Algiers, Algeria. About the UNCCD Developed as a result of the Rio Summit, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is a unique instrument that has brought attention to the land degradation affecting some of the most vulnerable people and ecosystems in the world. The UNCCD has 195 Parties (194 countries plus the European Union) and is one of the three “Rio Conventions”, along with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The UNCCD is increasingly recognized as an instrument that can make an important contribution to the achievement of sustainable development and poverty reduction. For more information contact: Ms Wagaki Mwangi UNCCD Secretariat Email: Tel: +49 228 8152820 +49 173 2687593 (mobile)

UNCCD Calls for Rio+20 to Agree on a Sustainable Development Goal on Land